If you’ve ever traveled with your little ones, you’ll know just how much equipment is required to keep them happy, well rested and fed. I think back to our cottage trips the last few years, and I recall how grateful I was that the cottage was stocked with kids plates and cups (something as small as that, can make any mom or dad happy). One thing the cottage didn’t have though, was a high chair. And a play pen. Stepping stools. A stroller. The list went on and on. The more I thought about all the equipment we use at home on a daily basis, the more I realized I had to bring with us to the cottage.
Enter Traveling Munchkin. This ingenious business idea was born of a mom and her traveling woes. Samantha Vlasceanu is a mom of 2, and the founder of Traveling Munchkin, and her business is all about alleviating the pain of traveling with little ones by providing children’s equipment rentals all around the Greater Toronto Area. How, you ask? Read on for my interview with Samantha, and learn how Traveling Munchkin can help you travel!
1. How did the idea of Traveling Munchkin form?
The idea came to me when I went to Calgary with my son as well as my sisters and their children. We had 4 kids in total, and two minivans packed like a clown car. We brought 3 strollers, 4 car seats, 2 travel cribs, 2 booster chairs, a bunch of toys and this didn't even include our own items! I couldn't find a child gear rental company that had either the brands we're familiar with, or were affordable (we already had the items at home, we didn’t see a point paying almost the same price as retail for rental). Also, we were staying outside of the city, and we couldn't find a rental business that would deliver outside the city.
2. Why the Peer-to-Peer idea?
Companies like @Airbnb became a disrupter in the industry by introducing the idea that Peer-to-Peer marketplaces can really work! Why? Because hosts have vacant products/homes/cars/services and buyers/renters NEED. People are looking to use services and products in a more convenient and/or affordable way.
Baby gear is the same. You have families that have baby equipment that are currently not in use (i.e saving a stroller for the next baby), rarely used (spare items or used at grandparent’s house), or are currently using but wouldn’t mind renting out since they have other options (i.e multiple strollers, travel crib etc.). And of course, there are traveling families that would like to borrow these bulky, inconvenient products at an affordable price.
From a personal perspective, I like Peer-to-Peer renting because from the moment I joined the exclusive club of Motherhood, I was blown away by the generosity and support of “mom tribes” and mom communities like @mamas_and_minis & @mommyconnectionscanada. These fellow moms were willing to help each other, and they didn’t even really know each other! But what they did know was the person asking for help was a mom just like them. So, I knew a Peer-to-Peer marketplace would work, as Traveling Munchkin is another community of moms (and dads, and grandparents, etc.) who can help other moms travelling with little ones find the equipment they need.
3. Why should someone use Traveling Munchkin?
Families traveling with babies are often overwhelmed with the amount of baby gear they need to bring with them: car seats, strollers, carriers & travel cribs to name a few. Traveling Munchkin eliminates the need to pack all that gear, and rent from a local family instead. Our 'Airbnb' model is all about communities of families helping families. This platform allows families to make a side income on their stored gear, their items are covered for damaged protection insurance, and they would be helping out a family in need. Wins all around!
But why choose Traveling Munchkin? Our peer-to-peer marketplace allows us to expand in more than one city, and not just the big cities. I also wanted to offer the brands moms use and trust. We've got a variety of strollers to choose from such as Bugaboo, UppaBaby, Peg Perego, Valco, Mountain Buggy, City Select, Britax and more to name a few, and that's just strollers! We've got car seats, cribs, toys, high chairs and more to make your hotel / vacation home feel more like home for your baby.
4. What can you rent off Traveling Munchkin?
We have everything you need to make your vacation feel like home for your baby. We've got strollers, car seats, booster seats, cribs, travel cribs, high chairs, gates, bouncers, swings, playmats, toys (lots of toys!), hiking carriers, carriers, seasonal gear (like snow suits, sleighs etc...), white noise machines, black-out blinds, stroller traveling bags, bath tubs, booster chairs, and so much more. Everything you have at home, our platform has. If there's something you need, let us know and we'll do our best to get it for you.
5. What is the most popular item that your customers rent off Traveling Munchkin?
Our top three items for rentals includes strollers, car seats & cribs /travel cribs. I usually suggest to families that if they would like to rent, they need two of the 3 top items to have listed for availability. Otherwise, a renter will normally go with a family that has those items and pick up any secondary items from them as well (i.e toys, high chairs, gates, etc.).
6. How can someone become a renter?
Easy as 1-2-3! Simply enter your location you'll be traveling to. 2. Choose from the available hosts in your area and select the gear you want for the number of days you'd require them. 3. Create an account and book. All payments are handled through Traveling Munchkin, and just let your Host families know any additional information (i.e Airbnb Host info, Time of arrival/departure, logistics of set up etc...).
7. How can someone become a Host?
Head on over to admin.travelingmunchkin.com to sign up for an account. You'll then be asked a few questions to let us know why you want to be a host and to tell us a little about yourself. Afterwards, you'll get a phone/ in-person interview to make sure this is a right fit and we'll discuss how everything works. Once approved, you're all set to start listing your products and ready to welcome your first guests to your city!
8. What’s your number 1 tip for traveling with a baby?
Baby crying is 100% okay! Babies have just as many rights to fly as any other passenger, and yes, they may cry. 80% of passengers are either parents themselves or have been around children in some context and they will understand! So don't worry about the crying being disruptive. The more tension you feel about it, the harder it will be to console your baby. ⠀
To take part in Traveling Munchkin’s benefits, either as a Host or Renter, please sign up at www.travelingmunchkin.com and give them a follow @travelingmunchkin on Instagram. Thanks Samantha, for offering such an amazing service, we can’t wait to use Traveling Munchkin next time we travel out of town!!